Research Reports - Are there gender differences in cognitive function, chronic stress, and neurobehavioral symptoms after mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury?

J Neurosci Nurs. 2012 Jun;44(3):124-33

Covassin T, Bay E.

Research is inconclusive on whether gender differences exist in cognitive
function in persons who sustain a mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Furthermore, it is also unclear whether there is a relationship between chronic
stress and cognitive function in these persons. The purpose of this integrative
review is to determine whether gender differences exist in cognitive function,
neurobehavioral symptoms, and chronic stress levels after a mild-to-moderate TBI.
Participants (n = 72) were recruited from eight outpatient rehabilitation
centers. Participants completed the demographic questions, the Immediate
Postconcussion Assessment Cognitive Testing neurocognitive test battery, the
Perceived Stress Scale-14, and the Neurobehavioral Functioning Inventory (NFI).
Gender differences were present on verbal memory composite scores (p = .033),
with women performing worse than men. There were no other between-gender
differences on cognitive tasks, neurobehavioral symptoms, or chronic stress.
Higher chronic stress levels result in a decrease in verbal memory (p = .015) and
motor processing speed (p = .006) and slower reaction time (p = .007) for women. As male NFI cognition scores increased, motor processing speed scores decreased
(p = .012) and reaction time got slower (p = .019), whereas women exhibited
decreased verbal memory (p = .017) and slower reaction time (p = .034). As NFI
motor symptoms increased, men exhibited decreased verbal memory (p = .005),
visual memory (p = .002), and motor processing speed (p = .002) and slower
reaction time (p = .002). Overall, this study only found gender differences on
verbal memory composite scores, whereas the remaining cognitive tasks,
neurobehavioral symptoms, and chronic stress did not indicate gender differences.
Correlations between chronic stress, neurobehavioral symptoms, and cognitive
function differed in both men and women with TBI. Persons in the chronic phase of
recovery from a TBI may benefit from training in compensatory strategies for
verbal memory deficits and stress management.

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